Bihar -- Litti Chokha
Blogging Marathon# 39 - Indian States: Day 4
Dish: Litti Chokha
Bihar is a state in northern state. The name 'Bihar' means 'abode' in Sanskrit. Bihar plain is divided into two by the river Ganges that flows through the middle from west to east. This endowed Bihar with fertile Gangetic alluvial soil with abundant water resources. This makes Bihar's agriculture rich and diverse. Rice, wheat and maize are the major crops of Bihar, while toor, urad, moong are some of the pulses cultivated in Bihar. Bihar is the largest producer of vegetables, especially potatoes, onions, brinjal and cauliflower.
Cuisine: Bihari cuisine is predominantly vegetarian because traditional Bihar society, influenced by Buddhist & Hindu values of non -violence, did not eat animal products. But there is also a tradition of meat-eating, especially fish because of the number of rivers in Bihar. Bihari cuisine has many similarities to other North Indian cuisines but is also influenced by the other East Indian states like West Bengal.
Staple Food: Roti, dal, Rice, Vegetables etc.,
Specialties: Kadhi Bari (soft dumplings made of besan cooked in a spicy yogurt based gravy), Ghughni (boiled black chickpeas cooked in mustard oil with spices), Sattu (powdered roasted gram -- a high energy food), Litti etc.
Today's Dish: I decided to make a very traditional Bihari dish today, Litti-Chokha. These can be served for breakfast or snack. Littis are baked balls of wheat and are stuffed with spiced sattu flour (called pitthi) and served with lots of ghee. They are served with Chokha or spiced mashed eggplant or potatoes.
Littis are stuffed with roasted gram flour called Sattu flour. Thankfully I found the flour in Indian grocery which saved me the trouble of making the flour at home. Sattu flour is widely used in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. It is said to be very nutritious because of the high fiber and protein content. It is used to make sattu ke paratha, sattu ke laddoo etc. With the bag of sattu flour carefully stashed in the fridge, I'm hoping to try my hand at making these delicacies in the future.
Update: Just found out from Valli's post that Sattu flour is nothing but ground roasted gram or putnalu. I thought it was an exotic ingredient that takes forever to make. But apparently putnalu or roasted gram is not sold in Bihar and they make it in clay post at home there. So save yourself some trouble and just grind store bought roasted gram to make satttu flour.
I made Baingan/ eggplant chokha and Aloo/ potato chokha to go with the littis. One of the interesting addition to the chokha is raw mustard oil, this gives the dish a very distinct pungent taste. When served with some melted ghee, this is a very very filling meal.
For the Dough:
For the Stuffing (Pitthi):
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Combine all the ingredients for the dough in a mixing bowl. Add warm water little at a time to form a soft pliable dough. Cover the dough and keep aside for 30 minutes.
- Make the Stuffing/ Pitthi: Combine all the ingredients for the stuffing in a mixing bowl, mix well. Add 1~2tbsp water to form a crumbly mixture.
- Make the Littis: Divide the dough into 6~8 equal sized balls. Take a dough ball and flatten it out on your palm into 3~4" diameter circle. Place 1~2tsp pitthi in the middle of the circle and wrap up the dough to completely cover and close the stuffing from all sides. Pinch the top to close and flatten slightly. Repeat with the remaining dough and pitthi.
- Place the littis on a baking tray, bake for 30~40 minutes, flipping midway to evenly brown the littis on both sides.
- Serve hot with Chokha and lots of melted ghee.
- Bake the eggplant on a baking sheet until very tender. This will take about 30~40 minutes. Towards the last 15 minutes of baking, put the tomatoes on the baking sheet and bake them along with the eggplants. Once done, let both the eggplant and tomatoes cool till easy to handle.
- Scoop out the flesh of the eggplant into a bowl. Peel off the tomato skins and mash them coarsely along with the eggplant.
- Add grated ginger, green chilies, salt and mustard seeds, mix well. Serve garnished with cilantro.
- Roast the tomato and the garlic cloves for 10~12 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool until easy enough to handle.
- Mash the tomatoes and add to the mashed potatoes. Next add all the other ingredients and mix well. Serve garnished with chopped cilantro.